via Masiyiwa: It’s all about jobs, stupid! 03/11/2013 by Richard Chidza NewZimbabwe
THE complexion of an investor is no longer relevant and focus must now shift to the creation of jobs, decent jobs, telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa has told African governments.
Masiyiwa is the executive chairman of technology behemoth Econet Wireless which was started in Zimbabwe and now has interests across the continent as well as in the South America, the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand.
In a speech on employment creation in Africa delivered at the Obasanjo Foundation last week Masiyiwa laid into African governments that continue to persist with loss-making state entities.
“Unless your country has a unique resource that no one else has, the truth of the matter is you have to compete for investment, even with your neighbours, because everyone wants it, from America, to China, to Zambia,” he said.
“Even the British were forced to allow the sale of marquee companies like Land Rover, and British Steel, to foreign investors, from India, who pumped in money, and created jobs.
“Even in other African countries, we are technically foreign investors, there are no special considerations given for the fact that we are an African multinational. We are a ‘foreign’ investor in some 17 countries around the world except Zimbabwe my homeland.
“The world has changed; foreign investors are no longer just companies from western countries. In our business, our most fierce competitors come from countries like China, India, Mexico, the Middle East, Nigeria, as well as South Africa.
Masiyiwa said Africa needed “quality” investors as well as expertise and capital injections to extract the resources that it boosts of having.
“And if you make unreasonable demands, the quality investors do not quarrel with you, they just leave quietly, and you will be left to the mercy of chancers, or bottom feeders, who promise you the moon, and deliver nothing, and also rip you off,” the self-made billionaire.
The South Africa-based tycoon said with half of Africa’s population below 25 years of age the continent needed to create 500 million jobs in the next decade.
He said he was inspired is inspired by China’s late leader Deng Zhaoping of China who changed China’s development trajectory following his takeover from communist leader Mao Tse-tung.
“In opening the door to foreign investment, Zhaoping said, ‘I do not care what colour the cat is, as long as it catches mice’.
“For me the ‘mice’ are ‘decent jobs’ for the youth. I shudder to think what China, would have been like, if he had not opened up the country to massive investment, and creation of jobs,” said Masiyiwa who is considered Zimbabwe’s richest man at over US$1 billion.
If Africa is to overcome the problem of poverty and joblessness the continent needed to move at 10 times the speed with which it is moving at the moment, he added.
He singled out Rwandan leader Paul Kagame and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan as a new crop of African leaders who understand what it meant to create decent jobs and economic transformation to eradicate the poverty which is stalking Africa.